Dahlia Flower Meaning, Symbolism and History

August 5, 2022 | Interesting facts

Dahlias are certainly one of the most eye-catching flowers you could have. No doubt their beauty is unmatched in the plant world, but their history makes them even more admirable. Historically, they have held various meanings that are still prevalent today.

What Do Dahlias Mean

Dahlia is a genus of flowering plants in the family of Asteraceae, containing about 42 species native to Central and South America.
Furthermore, there are numerous cultivars that are highly ornamental in appearance and large in size.

It is unclear where the name actually originated. Many believe that it was named for the Swedish botanist Anders Dahl.

Dahlia is surely one of the most popular garden flowers, mainly because of its attractive colorful flowers, but also because of its history and deep symbolism that can be associated with this incredible plant.

A Brief History of Dahlias

If you want to truly discover and understand the meaning behind these beautiful blooms, you have to go deep into the history, so let’s start with their history and their origin.

  • Dahlias have been used as a medicine for ages. However, we don’t know much about them before Aztec times (13th century). The Aztecs were very familiar with cultivating Dahlias, which were an important food source and medicine for them. Aztecs named the plant “Cocoxochitl”, which means “cane of water”, mainly due to its hollow stem.
  • When Conquistadors conquered the Aztecs in the 16th century, they took various plants from the land back to Spain with them and one of the plants was the Tree Dahlia (Dahlia imperialis). Dahlias soon spread across Europe where they got their name.
  • During the 19th century, they experienced increased popularity and became one of the most popular garden flowers in the world. Crossbreeding Dahlias to create new varieties became very popular in Europe, particularly in England where they were majorly cultivated and created in England what historians called “Dahlia mania”.
  • Dahlia has a rich history in the United States, too. In 1913, the city officials of Seattle declared the Dahlia to be its official flower. Then, in 1926, it became the official flower of San Francisco and one of the most popular flowers in the country. The American Dahlia Society was founded in 1915 and today comprises over 70 independent local societies in the United States and Canada. It is a non-profit organization founded for the purpose of promoting the culture and development of these beautiful plants.
  • In 1963, President of Mexico Adolfo López Mateos declared the Dahlia to be the official flower of Mexico. This flower is not only the national flower of the whole country, but also has deep spiritual significance in Mexican culture symbolizing new beginnings and new adventures.
  • People have been breeding and selecting them for centuries to make them even more glorious. Today, there are innumerable cultivars and hybrids that come in an astonishing variety of colors and shapes. They signify magnificence and beauty in the flower world, and growers constantly experiment with new varieties every year. If you want to learn more about growing and caring for Dahlias, this article has all the answers.

What do Dahlias Symbolize

Dahlias generally represent beauty, elegance, grace, dignity and confidence.

They are widely known for their beauty and elegance that leave everyone amazed. Their beautiful shapes and vivid colors are just impossible to ignore. These flowers bloom with grace and dignity, making them one of the most popular and easily recognized flowers on the planet.

Dahlias are not only beautiful, but they are also a pollinating paradise for bees and other pollinators. With their upright growth habit and magnificent blooms, they make striking vertical accents in borders and excellent cut flowers. They could therefore symbolize approaching life with a spirit that is confident and dynamic.

Different Colors of Dahlias and Their Meaning

Dahlias offer an impressive range of colors and may also be bicolored, multicolored or striped. It’s amazing how many colors they come in and how lovely they are. And just like the other blooms, different colors symbolize different things.

The Facts Behind the Black Dahlias

Black Dahlias don’t exist in nature, but there are some hybrids that are black in color such as “Fidalgo Blackie”, Black Barbara”, “Arabian Night” and “Charles de Gaulle”. However, they look more deep burgundy than black.

They usually have negative connotations, and are associated with sadness, betrayal and death.

There is the novel “The Black Dahlia” by James Ellroy that was also turned into a movie called “The Black Dahlia”, both based on the true story of the unsolved 1947 murder of the aspiring actress Elizabeth Ann Short (1924-1947), monickered as the “Black Dahlia”. She preferred black clothing and her destiny was definitely derailed, hence the nickname.

Purple Dahlias

Purple Dahlias mean royalty and dignity, and might be used to show someone you respect or admire their views.

They were previously thought to be rather rare, and were exceptionally prized and expensive so it was generally only royalty who could afford them.

Are There Any Blue Dahlias and What Do They Mean

Dahlias come in just about every color, except blue. They lack the gene for an enzyme that is required for the synthesis of a blue pigment so they cannot be achieved naturally.

Up to today, all attempts to produce blue Dahlia have resulted only in several near blue cultivars, hence it’s considered that “blue Dahlias” are synonymous with “impossible”.

Red Dahlias

Just as red Roses symbolize love and romance, red Dahlias mean the same thing.

However, they are also linked with strength, confidence and power, making them a great gift for someone who needs positive reinforcement during a difficult process.

Orange Dahlias

With orange roses we can express elegance, wealth and prosperity.

The orange color is considered as a sign of optimism and positive energy. It is the color of heat and energy, and it demands attention and effort.

Pink Dahlias

Often associated with kindness and grace, pink Dahlias are used to express fondness and kindness to someone, and are best suitable to be given to people who have a good heart.
They are a nice way to let someone know you care without romantic implications.

They are also associated with femininity, making them a popular choice among women.

Yellow Dahlias

Yellow is a bright color that brings brightness and joy. When gifted with yellow Dahlias, recipients easily feel the joy that the flowers wish to represent. And indeed, yellow Dahlias are a great way to put a smile on anyone’s face.

They also symbolize the bonds of friendship and a general wish for good fortune.

White Dahlias

White Dahlias mean purity, innocence and a clean soul so there is no doubt that they are perfect for weddings.

They can make you feel clean and always ready for a new beginning.